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Leopold Conservation Award Comes to Iowa

A prestigious award program celebrating voluntary conservation on farmland and forestland is coming to Iowa.

The Leopold Conservation Award® recognizes agricultural landowners who inspire others with their dedication to ethical land, water and wildlife habitat management. The award is named in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold. In his influential 1949 book, “A Sand County Almanac”, Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage.

Sand County Foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust annually present the Leopold Conservation Award to farmers, ranchers and forestland owners in 24 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. In Iowa, the award is presented with state partners: Conservation Districts of Iowa, Farmers National Company, and Practical Farmers of Iowa.

Owners of farm and forest land in Iowa may apply for the award themselves or be nominated by another party. The Iowa application can be found at www.sandcountyfoundation.org/ApplyLCA.

Applications will be reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders. The application deadline is July 1, 2022.

The recipient receives $10,000, and their conservation success story will be featured in a video and in other outreach. The recipient will be announced at The Big Soil Health Event in Cedar Falls in December.

“Recipients of this award are real life examples of conservation-minded agriculture,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and CEO. “These hard-working families are essential to our environment, food system and rural economy.”

“As the national sponsor for Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of farmers, ranchers and forestland owners,” said John Piotti, AFT President and CEO. “At AFT we believe that conservation in agriculture requires a focus on the land, the practices and the people and this award recognizes the integral role of all three.”

“The landowner plays a critical role in the conservation of America’s farmland resources. Sustainable practices not only benefit the local environment and community, but also improves the quality and value of the land as an asset for the current owner, and future generations,” said Clayton Becker, Farmers National Company President. “This is why Farmers National Company is honored to sponsor this prestigious award recognizing hard work and a commitment to conservation.”

“The conservation ethic inspired by Aldo Leopold is very strong in Iowa. He was born and raised in Iowa where he learned to love the land. That same land is now loved and preserved by many other great conservationists,” said John Whitaker, Conservation Districts of Iowa Executive Director.

"The dedication these farmers and landowners exhibit to preserving Iowa's natural resources is exceptional. We're honored to help elevate their leadership and commitment to conservation," said Sally Worley, Practical Farmers of Iowa Executive Director.

The Iowa Leopold Conservation Award is made possible through the generous support of American Farmland Trust, Conservation Districts of Iowa, Farmers National Company, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Sand County Foundation, Soil Regen, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Nancy and Marc DeLong, and Iowa Corn.

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LEOPOLD CONSERVATION AWARD PROGRAM is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. Sand County Foundation presents the award in California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont). www.leopoldconservationaward.org

SAND COUNTY FOUNDATION inspires and empowers a growing number of private landowners to ethically manage natural resources in their care, so future generations have clean and abundant water, healthy soil to support agriculture and forestry, plentiful habitat for wildlife and opportunities for outdoor recreation. www.sandcountyfoundation.org

AMERICAN FARMLAND TRUST is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through its No Farms, No Food message. Since its founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally sound farming practices on millions of additional acres, and supported thousands of farm families. www.farmland.org

FARMERS NATIONAL COMPANY, an employee-owned company, is the nation’s leading agricultural landowner and mineral services company. Farmers National Company manages more than 5,000 farms and ranches in 29 states comprising more than 2 million acres. The company has sold more than $5 billion of real estate during the last 10 years. Additional services provided by the company include appraisals and valuation services, insurance, consultation, oil, gas and renewable energy management, a national hunting lease program, forest resource management, and FNC Ag Stock. www.FarmersNational.com

PRACTICAL FARMERS OF IOWA is an inclusive organization representing a diversity of farmers. Farmers in our network raise corn and soybeans, hay, livestock large and small, horticultural crops from fruits and vegetables to cut flowers and herbs, and more. Our members have conventional and organic systems’ employ diverse management practices; run operations of all sizes; and come from a range of backgrounds. These farmers come together, however, because they believe in nature as the model for agriculture and they are committed to moving their operations toward sustainability. www.practicalfarmers.org

THE CONSERVATION DISTRICTS OF IOWA informs, educates and leads Iowans through our local soil and water conservation districts to promote conservation of natural resources. www.cdiowa.org

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